Summer at Opa: Cheese Pies & Blue Skies

Summertime in Philly…

The temperatures are sweltering, the weekend trips to the shore test our patience, and Center City Sips has filled the streets every Wednesday with drunken 20-somethings rocking suit jackets and teetering on heels.

But there’s a distinct joy that comes with some of the sweat – Summer Menus are hitting the Philly Restaurant Scene. Seasonal produce and ingredients, seafood, and creativity galore. And Opa, known for contemporary Greek plates in Center City, is bringing out the big guns. Or, in this case, the small plates.

The highlights?

19030341_10104668050441318_3629580810111224448_n.jpg

Dakos – Barley toast with sour cherry marmalade, fresh chevre, and fennel.

I may be on a toast kick lately (check out my latest post from Fitt for the Top 9 Spots Artisan Toasts in Philly!) and Opa’s take on the dish features a tart cherry marmalade that I want in all food and drink in the future.

19105579_10104668050411378_9120305407336902686_n.jpg

Aritchokes stuffed with crab, fresh herbs, Meyer lemon, & squid ink romesco. Then topped with cheese. Whoah.

Anything stuffed with crab is a-okay in my book, but this artichoke dish had us scraping the plate clean.

19105574_10104668050456288_2540713080378772179_n.jpg

Beet Cured Salmon – carpaccio style, melon, vidalia, arugula, pickled pepper

Lox comes to dinner with Opa’s beet-cured salmon. The little melon cubes add a hint of sweetness, though the pickled peppers are ENTIRELY too hot to eat.

So, ya know, don’t make the same mistake I did.

19030307_10104668050361478_7270489125835519314_n.jpg

Spaghettini – lobster, spicy tomato, olive oil crumbs

That spicy tomato is NOT A DRILL. But neither are the chunks of juicy lobster scattered throughout this dish. A small enough portion to not weigh you down, but large enough to satisfy for a summer dinner.

And now my FAVORITE two dishes:

19146017_10104668050401398_7022294614064970092_n.jpg

Lamb Loin – filo, lamb demi, charred spring onion, potato purée

Beef Wellington goes Greek! The filo is crispy, flakey, and buttery. The onion is perfectly charred, and the lamb is juicy AF. For only $10, this dish is the star of the new menu offerings.

19113947_10104668050351498_6191698651033884056_n.jpg

Tiropita Kataifi – kefalograviera & robiola, filo, orange, honey

Cheese. Pie.

Typically speaking, that’d be enough for me. BUT for your sake – I’ll hit you with some thoughts. Crunchy pastry strings surround a core of kefalograviera (a hard Greek table cheese typically made with sheep milk) & robiola (y’know – more cheese). The whole mess is drizzled with honey and tastes of bright citrusy orange.

Dessert has arrived. It’s unexpected and whimsical and delights the tongue.  Try not to fight over the last bite.

Chef Bobby Saritsoglou and his team are making a serious name for themselves in Midtown Village, and I can’t wait to see what fall brings. Just try to keep your visits limited to Thursday through Tuesday – those Wednesday SIPs crowds are an unforgiving lot.

 

 

Advertisements

honeygrow: crossing broad & fitness squad

What’s that phrase all the #fitspo folks post on Instagram? You know, the one I’m pretty sure Taylor Swift lives and dies by…

OH!

Find your tribe. Love them hard.

Yup. That’s the one.

There are heaps of tribes in this city. You’ve got yogis, runners, lost Lithers, the Soul Cyclists and the Flywheel fanatics, Freehouse folks, barre babes, and those die-hard November Project kids.

Whether you’re a member of one, of none, of several, or just an occasional visitor to a few, there’s one thing they all have in common: they gotta eat.

Luckily, hometown-hero honeygrow gets it. And they’re taking this idea of tribes, and fueling these fitness fans (and anyone else who’s hungry for some tasty, local, and fast fare) and running with it. And they just recently decided to run right across Broad Street to their newest Philly location on 11th Street!

18423767_10104564225327678_5260201331518435654_n.jpg

Fun Fact: Local Artist Martha Rich created this mural using snippets of conversation she heart whilst dining at honeygrow

I was able to swing by their friends & family opening and try some of the goodies, scope out the scene, and hear a little bit more about what honeygrow’s got planned for Philly (+ other locations) when it comes to fitness.

The space is beautiful, which is no surprise. They’ve got a number of the hg classic features, from their board listing where locally sourced ingredients come from to their futuristic touch-screen tablets for ordering.

Then, they went ahead and dropped some old-school tech on us with this AMAZING board which announces when orders are ready. (Trust me, Instagrammers, this thing is Boomerang gold).

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.05.29 AM.png

The new order board at hg 11th Street – going old school

And, as per usual, the eats are as tasty as they are nutritious.

18342678_10104564225332668_3906366286906827620_n

Spring Thai-m Salad (crammed with crispy shallots and shrimp) & FOUNTAIN green tea! 

In addition to offering fuel, honeygrow’s also recently brought a new aspect of the company to the table: hgAthletics. According to their mission statement:

…a platform for well-being within honeygrow; we are hgAthletics. By exploring exciting curiosities + tangible realities, we foster unity in our neighborhoods, appreciation of our environments and pride within ourselves.

They kicked off their summer in Philly with some killer rooftop yoga at Bok with PLUSgives and that’s just one of many activities lined up for this summer in Philly, DC, Delaware, and beyond!

Check their Calendar of Events for updates, but here’s a little taste:

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 10.55.00 AM.png

I’ll admit, I haven’t found my tribe. I dabble a bit in quite a few, and sometimes [ok, a lot] fancy myself a one-woman wolfpack lifting in the gym.

But it’s great to know that there’s a group of hungry, like-minded fitness friends out there in hgAthletics ready to run, bend, and train with me all summer long.

And if honeygrow happens  to hand out 20% off coupons after every FREE workout… well, that’s just a bonus.

 

Scarpetta Comes to Philadelphia

As you stroll out of the picturesque Rittenhouse Square and through the revolving doors of Scarpetta, the ultra-modern Italian restaurant and bar that recently opened in The Rittenhouse, the feeling is almost instantaneous.

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.

From the warm and sexy lighting to the bumping bass, the bustling staff and the attentive hostesses, Scarpetta feels like you’ve been transported to a hip Manhattan joint. Everyone we saw, from dates to businessmen, girls groups and buddies, was dressed to impress. The wine flowed like water and the bread baskets flowed like slightly-doughier water.  Scarpetta is a place to see and be seen, a place to bring your boss, a place to show-off to your parents, and a place to woo. I’ve gotta confess:

I loved it.

unnamed-4.jpg

So sleek. So sexy.

But I’ll also admit, if you wanna hear about the scene, the square footage, Uwishunu and Foobooz have done a much better job than I ever could.

I’m here to tell you, instead, about one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever eaten.

Remember that bread basket I mentioned? Yeah, that bad boy is filled with some flawless, airy and crunchy foccaccia AND house-made stromboli.

unnamed-7.jpg

Heaven in a basket

Served alongside mascarpone butter, citrus infused olive oil, and an eggplant spread that wouldn’t quit, we definitely had them refill this basket (….twice).

Scarpetta’s menu is divided into four parts.

  • Crudo (raw!)
  • Primi Piatti
  • Pasta
  • Proteins (including fish, meat, and poultry)

The folks at Scarpetta were generous enough to give my date and I a little bit of everything, and I’d definitely recommend going that route if you have the opportunity.

The options for the crudo were honestly the biggest challenge we had as every dish looked better than the last. In the end, we had three of four options (don’t worry tuna, we’ll be back for you!)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Scarpetta manages to elevate each dish in a way that not only let’s the quality of the fish shine but accentuates the natural flavor with expertly chosen garnishes. Our favorite was the  scallops. The pea and aleppo purée brought a zip to the smoothness of the scallop flavor I’d never experienced before.

The primi piatti that spoke to my date and I was something we’d tried at their preview party: Braised short ribs of beef with vegetable & farro risotto.

As expected, it didn’t disappoint. It merely melted in our mouths.

unnamed-8
Up next: the pasta!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Scarpetta’s signature dish is their spaghetti, a flawless example of the classic dish. But I suggest you get at least one more pasta dish: the duck & foie gras ravioli. Velvety, rich, and drizzled with a marsala reduction, this is easily the most delicious pasta I’ve ever tasted. Each pocket was stuffed with a perfect blend of tender duck and creamy foie gras.

unnamed-3.jpg

Dry-aged ribeye, featuring trumpet mushroom, cipollini onion, fingerling potato & truffled spinach. Our “Carne” choice, cooked medium rare and served pink and juicy.

Full to the brim, I assumed we were done.

I assumed wrong.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m so sorry that these photos don’t do the food an ounce of justice. I’m sorry I didn’t feel comfortable enough to bring my bulky DSLR to a gorgeous resto.

I’m also sorry I don’t have a vat of “unknown crunchy bits” to pour over all future desserts.

Scarpetta is a place to be spoiled, and to spoil someone. It’s a place I could easily write a thousand words about, but I’ll let these photos try and make up for about 400 of them.

Just go. Eat here. Be happy.